tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN February 18, 2013 9:00pm-10:00pm PST
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developments about the case of oscar pistorius. on the night where everybody is talking about what have motivated adam lanza, some are saying he might have been obsessed with a man who killed 77 people in july 2011. he may even believe there was a deadly competition between them, a sick competition he hoped to win by killing even more people than he did. meanwhile, connecticut police spokesman is throwing cold water on the theory at the moment, telling susan candiotti on the record, all of it is speculation. there's no basis to the cbs story. i want to bring in javier, a consultant for the department of justice. welcome back to you. clearly, the moment, no one is committing to a firm motive, but the cbs report clearly implies they are finding some kind of evidence that adam lanza, the sandy hook shooter, had in some
way fantasized about some weird, sick competition between him and the norwegian mass shooter. in your experience with this kind of thing, would that entirely surprise you, or is there often a copycat element to these kinds of massacres? >> if i was to understand, you would ask me a compound question. let me answer the second question first. it's not common in my experience to see copycat killings. however, it is common to see multiple factors that influence homicides, especially in instances like this where it really stretches the imagination, why would somebody do something as horrific as adam lanza did? and watching video games could be a causal factor or it could be in fact the end result of something else. mental health issues that led him to video games. >> clearly, it's cocktail of things, easy access to his
mother's weapons in the house which he shared with her. the newspaper is reporting tomorrow morning that they found thousands and thousands of dollars worth of violent video games in the lanze home and in particular where adam lanza used to have his own little private quarter said, if you like. clearly, if you mix the cocktail of mental health issues, the ready availability of high powered weaponry, and an apparent obsession with these violent games, that is going to trigger in the wrong kind of person, a very unpleasant situation. >> i think the proof is in the eating of the pudding. when you mix that cocktail, you get often times horrific results like this. the fact is that millions of people watch violent video games. there's a multibillion dollar industry. the supreme court has ruled on whether this causes violence, it doesn't. but as a factor, when you factor it in with somebody who looks
like they have severe mental health issues, had severe mental health issues, along with his being on the gun range with his mother, being not only desensitized to firing weapons, but being comfortable with them, and other factors we're not aware of yet, but those three factors, i have to agree with you. that's the cocktail for the kind of explosion we saw. >> i think you have to attack the whole gun control issue. i was almost rephrasing that, call it gun safety. how do you try and prevent more of these things? how do you try to make it safer for americans? i don't think you can do both, mental health issue, violent video games, gun control, all of it put together is a problem. normal people with no health issues at all can watch violent video games all day and all night and they will have no affect on them. it's not who we should be
concerned about. it's people like adam lanza. >> people with mental health issues who are in treatment, which is the majority, can watch these games and play these games and there's no violent. people with mental illness are not more violent than the general population if they're in treatment. the issue is the problem with people falling through the cracks or even being pushed through the cracks of the mental health care system. starting with clinton's surgeon general's report with president bush's freedom commission on mental health, more recent commissions, they all point to the same problem. obama is going for the same thing. we can't talk about gun safety without talking about our broken mental health problem. i have said this before on your program, it's getting the system to identify them. this is a guy that is obsessed, the report you're getting, obsessed. >> i think i would also add that there are many countries around the world, including my own
britain, where there's lots of mental health issues, but wows the ready availability of firearms, we don't get the shooting committee of people with mental problems. thank you for joining me. i appreciate it. >> you're welcome. >> dr. william begg was in the emergency room on that day, fighting a losing battle to save the children of sandy hook. since then, he haas been speaking out passionately about stopping gun violence. thank you for joining me. >> i appreciate the opportunity. my heart goes out to the families who lost the 20 children, 6 teachers at sandy hook. >> i totally echo that. i watched your testimony the other day. it was profoundly moving. it was very emotional. i could tell you were trying to control your anger. i think at what had happened. >> i was. >> also a sense of real frustration, i felt, that the message already was being kind of expounded by the usual gun rights lobbyists.
and how do we get through this? how does america move to a safer place, do you think? >> i'm with the group, united physicians in newtown. we understand it's a multifaceted approach if we want to change. we understand it's education. i have the ability to educate my patients in the same category when i talk to them about obesity and seat belts and texting while driving. we have to have education. so we have to have some research, so when i educate them, i have real data. right now, there's a public service announcement that says if you text and drive, there's 23 times more chance you're going to die. i need the same data to give to my patients. thirdly, mental health. i understand mental health is a big component, and again, towards my testimony, the way health care is going in our government, i don't want to cut resources in this environment, but lastly, there has to be attention to gun legislation, and the three tenets of gun legislation that we're
interested in is we have to look at high-capacity magazines, we have to look at assault rifles, and look at background checks. and the point of my legislation was that those for and against these view points have been talking about it. it's been analysis paralysis. now we need our legislators to vote on some of these initiatives and let us move on. >> you have been doing the excellent work you have done for 25 years. has anything quite prepared you for the horrors that you saw that day in december? >> no. you know, for 25 years, i worked in a emergency room setting, and i have seen gun violence, and i have seen a lot of trauma and tragedy, but this is different. things have changed. it's personal because it's my home town, but it's children, too. so there's been a crease, where our society, even perpetrators of gun violence, but now, to go after children, but now we have lost a whole classroom full of
children, we have to make some change, and i think this really is the tipping point. this is what is motivating me to do whatever i can to help try to force some type of change. >> when people say that any attempt to outlaw any kind of gun is an infringement of their second amendment rights, as one of the people who had to quite literally pick up the pieces of some of those children, what do you say by response? >> a couple things. first of all, i do believe that people are allowed to have their second amendment rights. and so people want to own a gun and they go through the proper channels, i accept that. but the second amendment did not say that people had to have military type rifles, and these high capacity magazines where you can hold thousands of bullets and the like. what i also say is that as a doctor, i'm not a political activist, as a doctor, i would
like to be able to say to my patients that when you own a gun, when you're buying a gun because you think you're going to be safer, you're not going to be safer. the studies are very clear. if you own a gun, you're four times more likely to die of an assault from a gun. if you're a spouse, you have a significantly increased risk of dying from your own partner than you do from the boogie man showing up to shoot you. and similarly, the suicide rate in our country is astronomical. almost 20,000 suicides and much more likely to die of suicide if you have a gun in the home. >> you know, i think you have raised some fascinating points there because there's been a spade of stories in the news only this week which lay testament to that. oscar pistorius, the paralympian hero, he had a house full of guns. and if those guns had not been there, we'll obviously to have wait for the outcome of his trial, but one thing is for sure. if the guns had not been there, his girlfriend would not have been shot dead. and he was in a very secure
compound where he didn't really need them, but it was the culture of him and his friends and people around him that he felt the need to have those guns in his house. similarly, i think with the suicide of mindy mccready, the suicide rate in america is terrifying. 18,000 americans a year kill themselves with guns. in australia where they had a massacre in the mid-'90s. forget the gun murder rate which came down. the gun suicide rate plummeted, i think by 40%, in australia after they brought in strict gun control following their massacre in the mid-'90s the same time we had the massacre in britain. it's not just when you get rid of guns or bring in effective gun control, you're targeting gun suicide because -- >> that's right. >> people can change their minds when they feel suicidal. they can't if they shoot themselves. >> that's right. even people who are not deemed a mental health type person may have social stresses that come
up unexpectedly. they may immediately go on the health spectrum and be an increased risk. so again, if people knew that they were at a significantly increased risk of dying from suicide or dying from domestic abuse when there's a gun in the house, maybe they would be less likely to buy a gun. i think a lot of people in the country think if they buy a gun, they're going to be safer, and that is not the truth. you statistically will be less safe if you own a gun. >> dr. begg, i thank you very much for joining me. i know you went through a very, very harrowing experience in december. i commend you for speaking out. i think it's a powerful voice and we need it right now. thank you for joining me. >> thanks for the opportunity, pierce. coming up, more on the shocking blade runner murder case. and john walsh, why he says mental health is as big a problem in this country as guns. to grow, we have to boost our social media visibility. more "likes." more tweets.
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[ male announcer ] make your escape... twice as rewarding. earn double points or double miles on all your hotel stays through march thirty first. sign up now at hiltondouble.com. john walsh has dedicated his life to tracking violence. john, welcome back. >> thank you. >> fascinating conversation i had with dr. begg. he actually saw firsthand the
utterly horrific scenes at sandy hook and he makes good points, when people try and use the second amendment as a defense against any form of guns, let's call it safety, not control. the word control maybe conveys the wrong sentiment, they go crazy. what do we do about this and what do we do about the connection between clear mental health issue and the type of gun violence we saw at aurora or sandy hook or the other massacres? >> i have profiled so many fugitives on america's most wanted who were on parole or probation, one man who was the suspect in the murder of four children, to kidnap an 8-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, released and able to get a gun every time. he would violate his probation, parole, sex offender registry, but he was able to get guns and murder children with those guns
after he abducted them, and he had a long history of violent pedophilia, and psychiatrists said at each one of his parole hearings, this guy is a health risk to society. he should never be released into public. so there are so many people who have serious mental health problems who have availability to guns. eight states don't report at all. >> when you hear 40% of all gun sales in america are done without any kind of background check, i find that the most terrifying fact of all because that is a huge amount of firepower that is crisscrossing around america, whether it's in gun shows or in other ways, hand to hand, going into hands of people we have absolutely no accountability for. >> some states attribute 60%. columbine, one of the boys gets a mac-10 pistol the day before. pays cash for it and all the
bullets for it, and the two boys go to a gun show. they're not old enough. they're dressed in their trench coats, and they take their little groupie friend of theirs, a girl, who says let's buy this, let's buy this, let's buy the ammo. no one asked them. they go, are you 18? it's against the law in colorado to buy a gun under 18, and she said, i'm the one. here's my driver's license. no background check, nobody asked what are you going to do with that? the next day, they shoot 39 people. it's insane, and i'm a responsible gun owner. since i saw you last time, i had one day off, and i went quail hunting. and i asked the guys i was quail hunting, including the guide, i said, would you have any problem with background checks? they said, absolutely not. responsible gun owners should go through responsible background checks. >> wayne lapierre runs the nra.
he's a fascinating and in my view a very dangerous character. he has done complete u-turns on background checks. he used to be in total favor of universal background checks. he was in favor of all schools being gun free. now he wants the opposite. everything is geared towards now with the nra and the leadership, not the membership, but the leadership toward the sale of guns and ammunition. >> and the recommendations are to keep the flow and sale of guns. 3 million guns are imported to the united states every year, 5 million guns that are manufactured here are sold. the nra is funded by the gun lobbyists. i say to smith & wesson, to remington, all the other gun manufacturers, what about putting a gps chip in those guns? you assume the responsibility and cost. i have proposed this to white house, to congress. put a gps chip in that gun. so the responsible gun owner whose house gets robbed by some little punk, and those guns are sold to the bad guys, you should be able to act vite it like i have an ipad, and if somebody
steals my ipad, i can activate that app and you can track it. >> i think it's a great idea, but when i went to texas, i could tell it was a very different atmosphere than new york. they would find that as a creeping sense of tyrannical government, and they feel that very strongly. >> absolutely not. i love texas. i have done many shows there. those guns end up in the hands of gang bangers. we discussed when i did a show about pablo guzman, the billionaire drug dealer. that general showed me 5,000 guns in a warehouse they confiscated from the cartels. he said these guns were bought in gun shows in new mexico, arizona, and california, driven or here, bought for $12,000, and sold for $4,000 to the cartels, that caused 42,000 murders in mexico. he said not only is america's insatiable appetite for guns funding the gun wars, but they're killing people.
if the guns had gps chips in them and they went across the border, you could track the guns. >> good idea. final question, who will stand up to the nra? >> i think every person, and most people i know don't know their two members of the congress. they have to say, i will never vote for you again. i will never donate a dollar to your campaign unless you stand up. the country says we need mental health systems, background checks. say to those people in congress, we know you're afraid of the nra, it's the toughest vote you're going to make, but unless you make america safer, safer for me and my wife, i'm never going to vote for you again. >> well said, john. it's a brilliant piece in "rolling stone" magazine about the relationship between the nra and the gun manufacturers. it's very direct. >> and there's a link to congress. >> and extremely mutually beneficial.
the parents of a pregnant 16-year-old agreed in a texas court not to force their daughter to have an abortion. the girl said the mother threatened her with an abortion. both parents said to tell people it was a miscarriage. joining us, the attorneys and evan madison, the 16-year-old father of the baby. let me start with you, evan, if i may. your girlfriend is two months pregnant. we're not going to name her to protect the baby's privacy, but tell me your feelings when you first of all found out that you were going to be a father. >> well, i mean, first off, i knew it wasn't going to be easy at all, but i really didn't imagine this all happening. but i knew that some of her parents -- many of her family were going to have a definitely a negative reaction, but i never
intended on this happening. >> did you and your girlfriend ever consider having an abortion, or were you always determined to have the baby? >> we were always determined to have the baby. >> so when you heard that her parents were adamant that you would not have the child and that they wanted their daughter to have a termination, how did it make you feel? >> well, it didn't surprise me from her father, but her mother, yes, it surprised me. i honestly thought she would have been a lot more supportive than she was. >> did you feel angry? did you have arguments with them? >> no, i mean, i tried just to keep my mouth shut. i didn't want to start more than what was already going on. >> let me turn now to your attorneys there. steven casey, it's a complicated case. today, i think that the courts
ruled that this girl could have the baby without parental interference, if you like. what is the precedent being set here, do you think? >> well, the precedent has been around for a while. since 1979, the supreme court recognized that a minor has an absolute right to carry her child to term, to make her own reproductive decisions. the precedence that is reaffirmed by this case is no one can force you have to an abortion. it's a highly underreported type of situation, and his girlfriend's case is just one more of a girl standing up for life. and we were here to protect her decision to carry her baby to term. >> and greg, your organization has been in republican politics in texas and nationwide, and said it's aggressively defending the sanctity of human life. how important is the ruling of roe v. wade in this case? >> we like to say the roe v.
wade decision goes both ways. we disagree with the decision in this case and we believe that decision should have stood for the proposition that life is protected from conception through natural death. but we, you know, choice goes both ways. so if a girl has a right to choose abortion, she also has the right to keep that child, and you know, as i said in one of our press releases, if the choice is pro-life in the state of texas, we will stand with her in court to support that choice. >> right, there will be people watching this saying on that case, you appear like you are pro choice. >> we are a pro life organization, and we support the choice for life in the state of texas. >> right, evan, people are saying you're 16 years old. as is your girlfriend.
very, very young to be bringing up a baby. do you have the responsibility? do you have the determination to be a good father? >> yes, i definitely have the determination to be a good father. i have lots of reasons i know i'll be a good father. but as in financially, that will be decisions that are made later on. >> do you plan to get married? >> yes, sir. >> do you think that you can repair the relationship with your in-laws, as they will be, or your girlfriend's parents? >> yes. >> do you believe that they will in the end come around to being loving grandparents? >> yes, i can see that. >> well, i wish you all the very best with it, i really do. it's a very complicated human story. many families i'm sure have been through a similar dilemma. thank you for joining me. >> thank you.
>> a girl spend her life defending abortion right. on this case, she's defending the rights of the 16-year-old girl. it's a complicated case and you can jump into judgments, and everyone is going to have a feeling about the girl, and the boyfriend sounds a responsible young man to me from the way he was talking. similarly, people understand the parents and how they feel. what do you make of this case? >> i definitely understand how the parents feel because i think they probably understand that when a teenager is pregnant, she's 16 years old, and her boyfriend, the father of the child to be is 16 years old, it's going to be the most important economic turning point in that girl's life if she takes the pregnancy to term and gives birth. often, 16-year-olds don't understand what is involved, the financial responsibility, the emotional responsibility, the physical responsibility of
raising a child. these are children. and the father, well, he said he'll be responsible. does he have a job? does she have a job? how are they going to support the child? do they know how to be parents? look, i do support her right to choose not to have an abortion, and i would also support her if she chose to have an abortion. that's what roe v. wade is about. interesting that the anti-choice attorney whom your interviewed didn't say if she wanted to have an abortion and her parents wanted to, we would go to court for her. they didn't because they're supporting her choice not to have an abortion, but they wouldn't support the other choice as well. it's a difficult issue, a challenging issue. you know, i would suggest the parents in a similar situation go to planned parenthood because they have counseling for teenagers and they can tell them the options, the choices. they're not going to say, have an abortion, don't have an
abortion, but they'll go through all the options, and the risks versus the benefits, the consequences of the choices. i think that's what is necessary. often when parents start talking with their teenage who is already pregnant, the parents are upset, as apparently these parents were, at least according to reports, and maybe they can't be quite as objective because it's their child and they're trying to protect their daughter. >> when does parental responsibility begin and end. you need parents permission to get a driver's license, tattoos, pierce your ears, and yet apparently, you can make the choice to have, as you say, a life changing, the biggest economic commitment of your life, prance, without anyone else having any say, the government or your parents. >> that's good, and that's a good point that is often pointed out by sometimes the anti-choice people. having said that, i think the court has recognized this is a unique situation when a young woman becomes pregnant.
and she's a teenager. she's a minor, and it is going to have life-long consequences for her. and because of roe v. wade, she has a right to choose abortion. interesting that the anti-choice people have fought to underline eliminating reverse roe v. wade, but here, they're taking advantage of it. fine, because we on this side of it are in support of choice. we're not saying which choice should be made, but i do think it's not too late for both the young man and the young woman to go down there and have counseling. i don't know what the agenda is of the anti-choice people. i'm sure they have deeply held religious beliefs, but you know, these young people are going to be the ones who are going to have the responsibility for the child, so it's not too late for them to understand what all of the options are, if they so choose, and i think their attorney should let them be able to do that. >> we did approach the mother's parents' attorney, but they didn't respond to the requests for comment. it's a complicated case.
>> i wish them the best, all of them. >> thank you. when we come back, who knows more about keeping america great than the families of presidents? my presidential panel squares off on the state of the union, and they're all related to ex-presidents. [ male announcer ] research suggests cell health plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day men's 50+. there's nothing like our grilled lobster and lobster tacos. the bar harbor bake is really worth trying. [ male announcer ] get more during red lobster's lobsterfest. with the year's largest selection of mouth-watering lobster entrees. like our delicious lobster lover's dream, featuring two kinds of succulent lobster tails. or our savory, new grilled maine lobster and lobster tacos. it's back, but not for long. [ woman ] our guests go crazy for lobsterfest. my favorite entree is the lobster lover's dream. what's yours? come celebrate lobsterfest
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>> no, it's a special day for all americans, piers, but look, it's pretty watered down by the time you get to fourth generation. we respect our heritage like all americans. we respect the presidency and the institution. but no, there's no strutting. although we all do take a moment to really reflect on the legacies of the presidents we're related to, and i think that's what we're delighted to share with you and your viewers. >> john, now i've got you here. your great grandfather was the heaviest president in history. why that is significant now is all of the conjecture over chris christie and whether he's too big to be president. your grand father was 350 pounds. >> heavy for those days in particular. >> right, let me cut to the quick. is it true he once got stuck in a white house bathtub?
because you're the guy who must know the answer. >> that's a timely question to which there is an answer thanks to an article posted recently on yahoo. the answer is no. he was never stuck in a white house bathtub. >> you're ruining one of the great stories. >> i'll give you a lesser one. he was in that case able to construct a larger bathtub to avoid getting stuck and may have constructed larger bathtubs elsewhere as well, but he did not get stuck in the white house bathtub. >> do you care about chris christie's weight? should it be an impediment to him be president? >> i do not. if you need a proof point to the fact that being a large individual is now impediment to serving in high office, my grandfather is that proof point. he was governor general of the philippines from 1900 to 1903. don't you think that was an arduous task? secretary of war, president of the united states, and then chief justice. 30 years, and he weighs over 300 pounds throughout that period. chris christie can be elected
and serve as president of the united states. >> good point. michael, let me talk to you about guns bah i tell you why. because a lot of people reference your father when it comes to guns because although he was the first to publicly endorse the nra as president, and he was a gun owner himself, he also endorsed an assault-weapons ban. what do you think he would have made of the current debate right now? >> oh, i think the current debate, if he had been president of the united states and leading, he probably would have pulled everybody into the white house and said what are the areas of agreement? what are the things we can do to make it safer in the schools and safer for the children and everybody else in the united states. we don't have that going on in washington, d.c. at this moment. instead, it's debate, debate, debate going on. something else, though, he probably would have brought up. he said why wasn't this being spoken about with all of the black children killed in chicago every single week or the children being killed in south los angeles every single week? why does it take white kids
being killed in a school in connecticut for there to be a debate on gun control when there was no debate on gun control with that many children and more being killed on the streets of chicago each and every week? that's a story that really needs to be talked about, and the president of the united states just now went to chicago, but that's only because a little girl who happened to march in the parade when he was being sworn in happened to be killed in his neighborhood just a few days after that. >> i think it's a perfectly valid point. margaret, let's go through the numbers here. number 27, president taft. number 31 was hoover. number 40 was reagan. let's talk about number 44 for a moment. i'm interested in what you think about this tiger woods golfing weekend. the idea of barack obama slipping away with tiger woods on a secret weekend is actually quite alarming given what we know about how tiger woods has spent many weekends over the years. when it comes down to whether he should release a picture, i have a bit of sympathy. i wonder if you do. in the end, in the skeet
shooting picture, for example, when he didn't release it, he got hammered. when he finally released it, he got hammered even harder. can you win as president in this sort of thing, and should the american media on behalf of the public, cut the president a bit of slack? >> well, the governing principle with all presidents and the media is transparency. and keeping open lines of communication. and it certainly -- the problem that president obama ran into isn't that he went golfing with tiger woods, and i'm certainly not worried about president obama. he and michelle have a very, very strong marriage, as we all know, so i don't think tiger woods is going to be influencing the president's behavior in any way, but what the press core did seem to say is there hasn't been open communication with them about this weekend. that was the brunt of their complaints. i think every president struggles with this and every president strives to have as much transparency as possible and still protect their privacy and that balance is constantly a
give and take. >> well, cnn managed to get some sneaky pictures of the president playing golf today, in fact. let's watch a bit of this. there he is. the president and see if i can see any good shots. the only question i really want to know is having heard the president sing al green better than al green, did he beat tiger woods at golf? if he did, we are now looking at the single most multitasking, gifted president in the history of the united states. so mr. president, if you're watching, i know you like to watch, i want to know, did you beat tiger? you can call me. we still have 16 minutes on air. let's take a break. you may even call in the break. we'll be right back. . don't youe any usefull apps on that thing? who do you think i am, quicken loans? ♪ at quicken loans, our amazingly useful mortgage calculator app allows you to quickly calculate your mortgage payment based on today's incredibly low interest rates...
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twice as rewarding. earn double points or double miles on all your hotel stays through march thirty first. sign up now at hiltondouble.com. try e-mail marketing from constantcontact. it's the fastest, easiest way to create great-looking custom e-mails that bring customers through your door. sign up for your free trial today at constantcontact.com/try. back now with my presidents day panel with john taft, michael reagan, and margaret hoover. michael, what do you think your father would have made of the paralysis in washington over the last couple years and what would he have done about it? >> you know, when he put together the tax break of 1981, he called tip o'neal in the white house and had dinner. tip o'neal went back the next day to his staff and said i'm going to support ronald reagan and carry the tax relief bill to the congress. he had 40 democrats in the
congress to vote for my father, but he the to carry the water. when they asked to tip, what did the president promise you, what did he say? he didn't talk about taxes all night long. he talked about the greatness and goodness of people. before i know it, i'm having a glass of wine with the president and telling irish stories. you need to bring together the people in washington. the paralysis is everywhere. it's not just one party or the other party. it's everywhere. nobody is asking harry reid why he hasn't had a budget in four years. nobody is holding his feet to the fire like they have held the republicans to the fire. they have to be equal opportunity. if i'm going to go after the republicans on this side, harry, where is your budget? >> margaret, would your great grandfather have looked at this and thought it's the republican's fault, they are too splintered. that the tea party, that crept in a couple of years ago split the party too much, no coherent
voice? >> all descendents can get in the trap of saying they know exactly what their -- whatever their presidential relative would have said. what i can say, what i do know about herbert hoover, he had a successful first half of his term passing bipartisan legislation for trade, the smoot holly bill. some suggest it was a major contributor to the economic slowdown. others suggest it's been vastly overstated. but it ultimately passing bipartisan legislation comes down to a president's ability to lead and to work with the congress. and hoover had been in washington, secretary of commerce for eight years before he became president and food administrator under president
wilson beforehand. if you have bipartisan relationships on both sides of the aisle. very close with president truman and joe kennedy. relationships that spanned both sides of the aisle. presidents work their will. able to get bipartisan legislation through. and i -- i think you can look at hoover's history and extrapolate from that how he might view the current situation and polarization in washington. >> john taft, would your great grandfather could go along with that? the bipartisan style of previous presidents not happening? >> my great grandfather struggled in his relations with congress. he was a reluctant president. didn't want to be president. agreed to run for president because roosevelt asked him too because he felt like he needed to serve his country in that way. he wanted to become chief justice of the supreme court, which he did. but one of the legacies of his presidency, he struggled to get anything done. his term resembled what was going on in washington right
now. >> let me ask you this before we wrap this up, what is the primary purpose of of the united states? >> i -- i think it's the same as the leader of any organization. a president needs to set a vision and then he needs to step back and let others meander as best suits their purpose toward that vision. i think, michael, one of your things your father was so good at was doing just that, able to articulate a vision and then step back and let other people take us there. >> i would agree with that. one thing, people need to remember, there was a placard on his desk, no telling what a man can accomplish if he doesn't worry who gets the credit. today, we have too many people trying to take credit for everything and getting nothing done. what ronald reagan didn't mind allowing mikhail gorbachev to take credit when he needed to. >> that's a great example.
what is the point of being a president? >> i agree with mr. taft and i agree with mr. reagan. you set a vision for the country, lead toward the vision, and the american people and the congress, the president is but one-third of the federal government. executive branch. he has to get along with the congress and he won't get anything done. we're forgetting the critical junction of defending the borders and in a time of urgent national security needs, the president is the commander in chif of the united states military and that's not something that -- that herbert hoover had to deal with, unfortunately, more of a peacetime. he was deeply involved in the rehabilitation of europe after world war ii and also world war i. >> we have presidential family consensus. good way to round things off. thank you all very much. >> thank you, piers.
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